Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Together Teacher Chapter 2- No More Missed Deadlines & Arc System Giveaway



Today is all about Chapter 2 of our book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin.  If you missed chapter one, you can find it here.  Every Wednesday, we will be reviewing each chapter on our quest to be more organized "Together Teachers".  I also have a giveaway for you this week!  Read on to find out more!



Chapter 2


This chapter is all about making sure you don't miss any deadlines by using what Maia calls a Comprehensive Calendar.  In this chapter we learn how to determine what type of calendar to keep (you will have a chance later in the post to win MY calendar of choice), how to put the calendar together using the Ideal Week Template we created after reading chapter 1, and finally how to maintain that calendar so that it can sufficiently guide us from month to week to day!

The Multiple-Calendar Dilemma
How many of us are guilty of this one?  Having a calendar for school, a calendar for your kids' activities, a calendar for your non-school related issues, a calendar of deadlines for classes you are taking, calendars in your cell phone, calendars on your computer, calendars, calendars, everywhere?  When you have multiple calendars it is so easy to lose track of everything you have going on.  Maia says that this can lead to collisions (such as report cards being due on the same day as your Master's thesis - not that I've ever been guilty of that!).  She says that this is the result of the fact that most of us do not take the time to put all our our time commitments and deadlines into one place.

The best way to deal with this is a Comprehensive Calendar, which is a place that lays out all of your time commitments and deadlines in one easy-to access location. It can be paper or tech based. Whatever works better for you.  At minimum, it needs a monthly view where you can keep the following:

  • Deadlines (one time and recurring)
  • Special events
  • Standard meetings (grade level collaborations, PD, etc.)
  • Personal events (doctor appointments, kids' practices, birthdays, etc.  

You can take it a step further by scheduling time blocks from your ideal week into you calendar.

 Ideally, this calendar should be set up for at least academic year ahead of time in order to see what events or deadlines lay ahead on which you must make early progress.  Now is the time to put in all of those grade deadlines so that you can plan mini-sessions to work on them rather than panicking at the last minute as you stay at school until midnight the night before they are due getting them ready.

Maia gives detailed examples from real teachers' calendars to show you what this might look like using both paper and tech based methods.  She also gives pros and cons of each ones so you can choose the option that is right for you.

I personally use both.  I ALWAYS have my phone with me, so I will make notes or plan appointments using it.  But.. and this is the big but, I will ALWAYS match it up with my paper calendar as soon as I can so that I don't miss anything.

The Up-Front Investment: Creating Your Comprehensive Calendar

Setting up your calendar really is an up-front investment.  Just like putting money away for a rainy day, taking the time out of your day to plan your calendar will save you from those embarrassing moments of missing a work deadline, or disappointing your child when you miss a big game.

The Steps are:

1. Rounding up your calendars (all of them - school, sports's schedules, unit plans, pacing guides, syllabus, etc.)

2. Put in the hard deadlines (tax day, lesson plan due dates, grade due dates, etc.)

3. Add your soft deadlines (things you want to accomplish but don't have fixed dates - organizing classroom library, bulletin boards, etc.)/

4. Events

5. Meetings

6. Don't Forget Your Personal Stuff!

Once this is complete (celebrate!  Buy yourself a Starbuck's and marvel at how much more prepared you will be this year!)


Then you need to think about what this preparation is going to look like through the year!  Maia gives tips for adding to your calendar throughout the year as you:


  • Process incoming emails and memos with deadlines and events
  • Process regular or routine communication
  • Deal with "day of" deadlines
  • Deal with deadlines that require work prior to the due date (those darn grades again!).
  • Deadlines that you receive via phone
  • Deadlines that come up in meetings


So, now that your calendar is set up, you are good to go and no deadlines will be missed, right?  Not so fast, Maia says, once you set up your calendar, you must review it regularly (she explains how in a later chapter).


1. Get a copy of the book if you haven't already.
2. Choose a calendar ( you can win the one I use in the giveaway below)
3. Take an hour or two to plan out your comprehensive calendar for the upcoming school year. (If you are posting along with us, link up below, or just add a comment when you have finished this step to let us know you are working along with us!).



Don't forget to visit next week with our guest host - Laura from Luv My Kinders.  She will be hosting a giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card (so you can order the book or other organizing supplies!)  




I have chosen to use the Staples Arc System for my Comprehensive Calendar.  I love it because I can completely customize it to fit all of my needs.  Using the special hole punch (which the winner will receive) I can add any paper that I need to so I don't lose it.  I keep not only my calendar, but also my lesson plans, my pacing guide, and my standards inside.  Along with this, there is a place for me to keep notes from meetings or thoughts that pop into my head.  No more lost sticky notes!







The winner of this giveaway will win a flexi-arc notebook along with the special arc punch (approx $60 value)  Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hot Summer Giveaway #3 - $20 for TpT and $20 for Target




Just in time for back to school shopping - enter to win week 3 of NC Teacher Chick's hot summer giveaway to win a $20 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card & a $20 Target Gift Card!  Two of my favorite places!

And be sure to visit tomorrow, when I share how I used some ice cube trays from Wal-Mart to tackle this mess.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Together Teacher Ch 1 Rules Over Tools: Create Your Ideal Week




Today is the first day of our book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin.  Every Wednesday from now until Oct. 8th we will be tackling one chapter at a time towards getting our lives more organized.  

Let me paint you a picture of a not-so-together teacher: Rushing into school a Starbuck's in hand, along with bags of supplies (but not all of them - some are still sitting on the counter at home), son's not completed homework, and a headache coming on with the realization that I haven't made copies for the day yet.  I set my child down at a table with instructions to complete said homework as I run down the hall to make those copies.  The printer jams mid-way through and my cursing under my breath is only drowned out by the sounds of my name being called over the intercom.  I forgot about that IEP!  Its not even 8 AM already and I am beyond overwhelmed!

Yes, I admit that not-so-together teacher was me... Something had to give I needed to be just a little more together.  If you are one of those amazingly born organized people, I envy you!  But, if you are not, and that scenario rings a little to true for you, you will want to follow along with this book study!  Author Maia Heyck-Merlin helps us to develop all the tools we need to plan ahead, get organized, an save time!


Chapter 1


Maia Heyck-Merlin opens chapter one by letting us know that It CAN get easier.  She says that organization is a learned skill - one that we ALL can master.  No more excuses!

One thing that I love about this book is that she doesn't recommend costly tools to get organized.  In fact, she gives you ideas to be organized no matter what tools you choose to use - paper or digital.  She does have a few rules though:

The Rules:
1. Get everything in one place.
2. Take it with you.
3. Write everything down.
4. Make it bite-size.
5. Keep like items with like items.
6. Create a trigger for what you put away.
7. Mind your energy levels.
8. No tool is forever.
9. Own your schedule.
10. Pause to plan.

She details each of these rules, and they really make sense.  Why didn't I know these things already? I also love that she gives reflection questions so you can really develop a plan that is going to work for you.

The Tools:
As I said before, the author is fairly neutral as to which tools you use, but she does care that your chosen tools are used to their fullest. No matter which tool you choose to use you want to make sure to have the following:

1. A Comprehensive Calendar that lays out all of your time/meetings/dates in one place.  (This is for both work and personal life).

2. An Upcoming To-Do List

3. Thought Catchers

4. Meeting/ Professional Development (PD) Notes

Maia suggests that you imagine your ideal week.  How you would ideally spend your time in any given week.  She provides a few questions to get you thinking about what you might want to include in this week.  She points out that although this plan is not meant to be followed to the letter each week (she was a teacher and knows about all those meetings that pop up), but it gives you a foundation to start from.

You can find a copy of an ideal comprehensive calendar on the Together Teacher website under Resources:Teacher:Comprehensive Calendar.  You do have to register for the website, but it is free and there are a ton of resources available to you!


Here is my completed version of my ideal week:



To read more in this series follow these links:










Sunday, July 20, 2014

Favorite Pinterest Board - Linky




To say I am a bit addicted to Pinterest would be a bit of an understatement!  I am linking up with What I Have Learned to share our favorite Pinterest boards.    All of the boards have ideas, anchor charts, activities, and more - not just a bunch of product covers.

The board I am linking up is Elementary Ideas

A few of my other favorites are:

Elementary Reading

Elementary Math

You can follow all of my Pinterest Boards here.

Do you have a favorite Pinterest Board we should follow?  Link up and let us know!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Together Teacher Book Study


I am so excited to be working on a book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin starting this Wednesday!  Each week we will work on a chapter from the book with different blogger hosts.  There will also be giveaways and freebies!

From Amazon:

An essential guide for over-scheduled teachers
Maia Heyck-Merlin helps teachers build the habits, customize the tools, and create space to become a Together Teacher. This practical resource shows teachers how to be effective and have a life! Author and educator Maia Heyck-Merlin explores the key habits of Together Teachers—how they plan ahead, organize work and their classrooms, and how they spend their limited free time. The end goal is always strong outcomes for their students.
So what does Together, or Together Enough, look like? To some teachers it might mean neat filing systems. To others it might mean using time efficiently to get more done in fewer minutes. Regardless, Together Teachers all rely on the same skills. In six parts, the book clearly lays out these essential skills. Heyck-Merlin walks the reader through how to establish simple yet successful organizational systems. There are concrete steps that every teacher can implement to achieve greater stability and success in their classrooms and in their lives.
  • Contains templates and tutorials to create and customize a personal organizational system and includes a companion website: www.thetogetherteacher.com
  • Recommends various electronic or online tools to make a teacher's school day (and life!) more efficient and productive
  • Includes a Reader's Guide, a great professional development resource; teachers will answer reflection questions, make notes about habits, and select tools that best match individual needs and preferences

You can watch this video of the author explaining a little bit about her system and the website where she features both freebies from the book along with other great ideas about organization.  You do have to register for the site to access the freebies, but it is free to register.  As she says in the video, try out some of the ideas and see if they help you become a more together teacher!



I am also still looking for several bloggers who would like to host a chapter on their blog.  I will provide you with the giveaway item and the linky, you just have to write about your thoughts on your chapter.  I would also encourage weekly posts with the other chapters if possible, but you are just committing to the one chapter.  I will highlight you and your blog on my blog the week of your chapter.  If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below.

If you would like to host a chapter, fill out this form picking your day and chapter.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday - July 18, 2014


It's Friday!  Fridays in summer just don't have the same meaning, but one thing is the same - time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This last week has felt kind of like the grand finale of a fireworks display.  You know how they send a ton of different fireworks off all at once?  I feel like this week has been a rush of activities getting ready for the end of summer. Although our kiddos don't go back to school until August 18th - I go back for training and PD on the 31st!  Where is my summer going???




My week started out last Friday with the TpT conference!  I had so much fun and learned a ton!  If you want to read more about my experience (along with my notes from the conference) you can find a link to all of the posts I wrote with my notes here.  That is Natalie from File Folder Heaven.  She has had a website for YEARS but has only recently started selling on TpT.




The day after I got back from the TpT conference we went to the water park for my hubby's company picnic.




Then the next day my husband's uncle came to visit from Boise.  He has a time share in Reno (about 35 minutes west of where we live) and he reserved us a room to staycation with him.


We had to have a silly and serious pose!

Here was my view for the rest of the week:



We spent a lot of time at the pool!




And we finished this crazy week last night at a Reno Ace's ball game!



 It was a crazy week for sure!  I hope you had a good week too.  Link up and share!





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 - My Story



I have been blogging all this week about my experiences at the Teachers Pay Teachers First conference in Vegas!  If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                          Keynote
                                                                          Session 1
Session 3
Session 4

Now time for my story (I hope it doesn't put you to sleep! LOL!). Make sure you read (or at least scroll to) to the bottom - I have a few freebies and resources I've found for you!

Anyway, it started in February when this happened.


I am really bad about doing things for myself.  My hubby convinced me to register and said it could be my birthday/Christmas present since I hadn't asked for anything.  I agreed and excitedly waited and counted down the days until July.  

My TpT sales were steadily increasing, so it made me feel a little better about making the trip and spending the money.  I am not going to lie, the trip was an expense, but it was so worth it!  My advice to you, start putting away a portion of your TpT sales away each month towards next year.  If your not making enough, make it a goal to at least get there!

I had attended BlogHer a few years ago, and was completely overwhelmed!  There were over 3,000 bloggers there and I never felt so alone in my life.  I didn't meet any bloggers who blogged about things that I blogged about, and I felt a little out of place the whole time.  I was a little nervous that this might happen again.  Luckily, there was a post on the forum at Teachers Pay Teachers about other bloggers who were also nervous.  They also were planning to meet for dinner while at the conference.  I was lucky enough to meet up with Nancy from the Apple Basket Teacher and we decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory.  

Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going and couldn't find the Cheesecake Factory. Fortunately, I met up with a few teachers who were attending the SDE conference and they walked me the whole way!  They even snapped a few pictures for me!




Nancy and I had a great dinner and chatted like old friends! 


 Then we headed back to the Venetian for a blogger meetup where we met several other blogging buddies.  Meeting all of these wonderful ladies set my mind at ease for the conference.  Teachers really are a wonderful group of people and are so warm and welcoming.  If you are worried about going because you won't know anyone - get that out of your head because you WILL make new friends while you are there!

Even the bigger name bloggers were open and willing to talk to anyone who came up to them.  I got to meet:






and Laura Candler (one of my idols) 



as I was walking to pick up my registration packet and swag bag.  This bag was filled with a water bottle, a pen, and a bumper sticker.  I forgot to take a pic!

The morning of the conference the jitters kicked in a bit as I wasn't sure where to sit.  I didn't see anyone I had met the night before.  


But, again teachers are so warm and inviting I was able to find a table next to some more lovely people.  Besides, I was there to meet new people right?!  If you go next year, definitely step outside of your comfort zone.

At the beginning of the conference they asked us to stand up based on when we had started selling on TpT.  I started way back in 2008 - Rachel Lynette (TpT's 2nd millionaire) was one of the few to stand up with me.  My journey has been much different from hers, and from this conference I realized that this was ok.  Everyone is on their own journey.

A few people balked at the idea of posting on Facebook daily, or even having a blog.  I think that is perfectly ok.  Every one of us should have our own journey and our own pace.  Deanna Jump had said at the beginning that "comparison is the thief of joy" quoting Roosevelt.  I couldn't agree more.  We should each be happy with the road we are on.  Maybe we will all be TpT millionaires and maybe we won't and that is ok.  Each of our paths are different.

Erin Cobb had mentioned that she gave up on things and sacrificed in order to get where she was.  Maybe some things are not meant to be sacrificed by all people.  If you have small ones at home - they need your attention too!  If you didn't go to the conference because of that - again that is ok.  You need to make the decisions that are right for you.  I am going to share my own sales graph. I couldn't commit the time I do now when I first started - I had 6 boys to take care of!  Now 3 of those boys are grown and my other three are 8, 12, and 13 and don't need as much time as they did when I was nursing and potty training.  Even though I am no where near millionaire status, I am very proud of my journey!



I am also proud of the fact that I can share my picture on my blog (I have always been self conscious about that, and I'm not going to be anymore!  I will leave you with this final shot from Vegas at the end of the conference.  I went in the photo booth with Nancy (ignore the middle picture - we thought we had a lot more time than we did! LOL)



During my entire TpT journey (not just the conference) I have gained so much more than the money.  I have gained life long friends, confidence, and empowerment that I never would have had before!


I have a few ideas for collaboration that I will be sharing in the upcoming days.  If you would like to be a part of it send me an email, and I will be sure to let you know ahead of time!


I found a few freebies from other sellers about the conference to share:

Deanna Jump Inspirational Quote Free!

This was a quote from Deanna Jump's keynote speech.  Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd made a few different versions that you could print out and hang near your work space.  I know I will be hanging this up along with my goal pages.


Tips from the TpT Premium Seller Conference ~ Las Vegas 2014

Mrs. Renz' Class put together a set of tips based on her notes from the conference. 

TPT Seller's Conference Notes: Las Vegas 2014

Lisa from Lisa TeachR put together her notes in this free PowerPoint.


I hope you have enjoyed this series!  I also hope that you stick around for other upcoming projects that I hope will be just as useful!

If you have any other TpT or blogging questions (beginner or advanced) let me know!



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